How do I audition a system with components from multiple dealers?

Wharfedale EVO 4.1 4.2 Speakers

pnredkar

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Hi,

How do I audition a system with components from multiple dealers?

Let me explain my situation. Yesterday, I was out auditioning few speakers as well as A/V receivers. I am more interested in music, but have to make do with a single system which will deal with movies also. Hence I am looking for a musical a/v receiver with a set of good stereo speakers. I plan to expand the speakers later.

In speakers, I auditioned the Wharfedale diamond 9.1, Quad 11L and Mordaunt Short Avant 902i. I liked the Quad 11L best. All these auditions were done with stereo amplifiers to judge the speakers better.

In receivers, I have been auditioning for a while. I liked the Marantz and the CA receivers. But, I have almost finalized on the CA 540R V3 receiver.

So my questions to experienced people:
(1) Can I audition the CA 540R with Quad 11L before buying anyone of them?
(2) If I have to buy one of them, which would you suggest I buy first?
(3) Does anyone have experience with mating the above pair in particular or Quad speakers and CA amplifiers in general?

Any feedback or help is appreciated.

Regards,
Prasad Redkar.
 

particleman

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In speakers, I auditioned the Wharfedale diamond 9.1, Quad 11L and Mordaunt Short Avant 902i.
That's a bit of an odd group there since you have two entry-level speakers and one that's significantly better and costs more than the other two combined. There are several other speakers that fill the gap between Diamond 9.1 and Quad 11L nicely (e.g. Monitor Audio Silver, PSB Image, B&W 600 series, etc.). However this question is best answered by knowing what music you listen to, the area of the listening space and intended budget. My vote for best all-rounder would go to Monitor Audio RS1. However fellow board members have more experience and can probably suggest other speakers such as Tannoy, Dali, Mission, which I am not familiar with.

To address the issue of the AV Receiver, it has been the opinion of more experienced/knowledgeable users on this and other forums that Marantz AVRs tend to deal with music better than their competitors -- and so I defer to their opinion on this. I assume the Marantz in question is the SR-4001? I would also suggest adding the Onkyo TX-SR605 to your list -- the most significant reason being that it handles high-definition audio/video formats such as Dolby TrueHD, Digital Plus, DTS-HD and features HDMI 1.3, making it future-proof.

As for auditioning components together, that is a bit difficult here in India as shops won't usually let you take stuff home. Don't know about Bangalore. Conventional wisdom suggests choosing the speakers first as they are the longest lasting components of your setup.
 

dinyaar

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Hi.
I totally agree that u need to buy speakers first.

In todays times gross incompatability is rare and i dont think the CA receiver and Quads will not sound good. Dont know the scene in bangalore but shortlist the speakers u like and then request the amp dealer if he could send over a demo peice to the speaker distributor for u to audition together. Guess u have to try.

I personally would love to hear my proposed set up before i buy. CA electronics tend to be a little bright to my ears but the quad 11 L s are good speakers. The B&W 600 series has been upgraded and the new series is good too. Finally its the sound u like that decides what speaker to buy and each brand has a particular tonality. Also see if the B&W dealer(i believe there is one in Bglore) has any 601 s or 602 s left from his old stock to offer at a discount? I think the 601 s are sweet book shelves.

Another option is dynaudio speakers which are good too and in bbay are sold by the same distributor as CA so hearing the combination would be possible.
Regards
 
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pnredkar

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That's a bit of an odd group there since you have two entry-level speakers and one that's significantly better and costs more than the other two combined. There are several other speakers that fill the gap between Diamond 9.1 and Quad 11L nicely (e.g. Monitor Audio Silver, PSB Image, B&W 600 series, etc.). However this question is best answered by knowing what music you listen to, the area of the listening space and intended budget. My vote for best all-rounder would go to Monitor Audio RS1. However fellow board members have more experience and can probably suggest other speakers such as Tannoy, Dali, Mission, which I am not familiar with.

Yes, the short list does seem odd now. I started looking for a 5.1 sub-sat setup. I had checked the Mirage nanosats with Marantz which I felt were good. However, when the next customer checked for some bookshelves with the same receiver I said wow! Then cropped the idea of having a bookshelves with addition of other speakers later on. KEF 3005 and B&W MT20 were already auditioned. The sub-sat systems I was waiting to audition were the Wharfedale Diamond HCP, Quad L-ite and MS Genie. These sets were chosen because they have good reviews and their Indian prices comparable to international ones. So, I just shifted to the bookshelves from the same manufacturer and dealer. Hence that crazy short list.

I listen mainly to Indian classical music and Bollywood music. My critical listening was for Indian instrumental music. I prefer sligtly warm and laid-back sound. From what I have read (and now heard) the Quads are a good match for such type of music. Rs. 25000/- is the absolute maximum that I want to spend now for the stereo speakers. Hence Dynaudio Audience 42, KEF iQ3, Dali Ikon 1 and B&W 686 are not considered. Do the Monitor Audio Silver series or PSB image fall into this price range?

To address the issue of the AV Receiver, it has been the opinion of more experienced/knowledgeable users on this and other forums that Marantz AVRs tend to deal with music better than their competitors -- and so I defer to their opinion on this. I assume the Marantz in question is the SR-4001? I would also suggest adding the Onkyo TX-SR605 to your list -- the most significant reason being that it handles high-definition audio/video formats such as Dolby TrueHD, Digital Plus, DTS-HD and features HDMI 1.3, making it future-proof.

Yes, I have auditioned both and to my ears the CA sounds equally good or marginally better. And the CA definitely looks classy as compared to the Marantz. I had a HTIB from Sony for six years which conked off. However, if I see my usage for movies, I feel that in future I may go for a 5.1 setup, but never a 7.1 setup. I would be satisfied with a 3.1 mostly. And, these receivers support analog 6.1 inputs. So I only have to buy a player with good DAC to be able to use the future formats. Having said, have auditioned Onkyo and Denon receivers and I feel that they are average with music (though great with movies).

As for auditioning components together, that is a bit difficult here in India as shops won't usually let you take stuff home. Don't know about Bangalore. Conventional wisdom suggests choosing the speakers first as they are the longest lasting components of your setup.

That's the advice I was looking for. Thanks a lot.

Regards,
Prasad Redkar.
 

pnredkar

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Hi.
I totally agree that u need to buy speakers first.

In todays times gross incompatability is rare and i dont think the CA receiver and Quads will not sound good. Dont know the scene in bangalore but shortlist the speakers u like and then request the amp dealer if he could send over a demo peice to the speaker distributor for u to audition together. Guess u have to try.

I personally would love to hear my proposed set up before i buy. CA electronics tend to be a little bright to my ears but the quad 11 L s are good speakers. The B&W 600 series has been upgraded and the new series is good too. Finally its the sound u like that decides what speaker to buy and each brand has a particular tonality. Also see if the B&W dealer(i believe there is one in Bglore) has any 601 s or 602 s left from his old stock to offer at a discount? I think the 601 s are sweet book shelves.

Another option is dynaudio speakers which are good too and in bbay are sold by the same distributor as CA so hearing the combination would be possible.
Regards

Hi,

Thanks for the suggestion. I might see it either dealer loans me a piece for demo with the other component.

I feel the Dynaudio will be out of budget. Discounted 601's maybe a good idea but do you feel it will be better than Quad for Indian classical?

Regards,
Prasad.
 

dinyaar

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Hi,
Well i listen to western classical, soft rock and various vocal based stuff from different regions but not indian classical so my opinions are really based from my listening experience. I guess u will have to try it out. I have heard the quads a lot(a friend has it with a Nad C 352 integrated). In one of my audio set ups i am driving an old 601 with a Rotel RA 1062 integrated in a small room and i prefer my combo.

Regards
 

realactivex

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Hi
Sorry I am not a very competent person to talk on this.. but at the same time my two cents..
I had read elsewhere that it is better to first audition your receivers ( if you go for a future proof recv, you might use it for a good number of years)
Once you buy your recv, you can tug it along for auditioning speakers..

the reason being that some speakers will not go well with some receivers.

speaker appeal is emotive and receiver appeal is slightly easier to quantify ( based on the feature set/cost/bells and whistles and whether you would also want extensive video processing capabilities)

you can add on to your speakers ( buy stereo in the first go and upgrade to 5.1, 7.1 etc). even if you are buying bookshelf, you can move them back to surround positions when you get financially comfortable.

so spend max on your receiver and your source player ( dvd/cdplayer) and then suitably you can upgrade speakers with time.

I am open to feedback and corrections on this opinion.
 

unleash_me

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Prasad,

Welcome to the world of high end audio!

If you could clearly specify your needs with facts and figures, am sure many of us here would be able to guide you properly.

a) Is the system for music OR movies OR both

This is important because, if its for music, trust me nothing will give you the satisfaction of having seperates.

Invest in a good CD/SACD player [CA 640C v2, Marantz CD6002, Pioneer PD-D6-J to name a few] and a good integrated amp (if on budget), you can try [CA 640A v2, Marantz PM6002, PM7001, Pioneer A6-J etc]

If its just for movies, go for Onkyo any day. Its cost effective and value for money.

If music and movies are equally impt, try CA, Denon, Marantz or the best Arcam!

b) What is your listening area dimentions?

c) As per what I gathered from you post, your budget is around 25k for speakers. If there is a stretch possible definitely listen to Monitor Audio BR5 and Wharferdale Diamond 9.5 in this price catogory.

d) How much do you plan to spend on the AVR?
There is always a best system for any given budget, right now Onkyo TXSR 605 seems to be the one with all the bells and whistles. Having said that, if music is your priority I would urge you to consider Arcam AVRs.

Best regards.
 

pnredkar

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Hi
Sorry I am not a very competent person to talk on this.. but at the same time my two cents..
I had read elsewhere that it is better to first audition your receivers ( if you go for a future proof recv, you might use it for a good number of years)
Once you buy your recv, you can tug it along for auditioning speakers..

the reason being that some speakers will not go well with some receivers.

speaker appeal is emotive and receiver appeal is slightly easier to quantify ( based on the feature set/cost/bells and whistles and whether you would also want extensive video processing capabilities)

you can add on to your speakers ( buy stereo in the first go and upgrade to 5.1, 7.1 etc). even if you are buying bookshelf, you can move them back to surround positions when you get financially comfortable.

so spend max on your receiver and your source player ( dvd/cdplayer) and then suitably you can upgrade speakers with time.

I am open to feedback and corrections on this opinion.

I agree with you to some extent. As you said the speaker appeal is emotive. My introduction to hi-fi is new, but I have listened to many home theatre speakers. And the characteristics of the sound are defined by your speakers more than any other part of the system. So if you want a particular type of sound, I feel that you should first identify the speaker set. Then you can find the receiver which best matches these speakers. I would liken this search to the "tuning" and "fine tuning" knobs in the old radio sets.

As far as future proofing is concerned, I feel that a good set of speakers would be last longer than the a/v receiver. The future proofing which we hear so often is more for movie sounds than hi-fi. I dont think that stereo sound is going to replaced. That's why we find the renewed interest even in vinyl's now a days.

These are my two cents. We can agree to disagree :)

Regards,
Prasad.
 

pnredkar

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Prasad,

Welcome to the world of high end audio!

If you could clearly specify your needs with facts and figures, am sure many of us here would be able to guide you properly.

Thanks a lot. I am here for the same reason. This is a such a great place to be!

a) Is the system for music OR movies OR both

This is important because, if its for music, trust me nothing will give you the satisfaction of having seperates.

Invest in a good CD/SACD player [CA 640C v2, Marantz CD6002, Pioneer PD-D6-J to name a few] and a good integrated amp (if on budget), you can try [CA 640A v2, Marantz PM6002, PM7001, Pioneer A6-J etc]

If its just for movies, go for Onkyo any day. Its cost effective and value for money.

If music and movies are equally impt, try CA, Denon, Marantz or the best Arcam!

Music is more important. But other factors (read WAF) forces me to have only one system. So stereo amps are out of question as of now. However, I may decide to go for a strictly stereo setup some years down the line.

So, my shortlist now is CA or Marantz. I read good reviews about the Arcam but I assume it would be out of my budget of about Rs. 30000/-. So it is not in my list.

b) What is your listening area dimentions?

The nature of the listening area is the biggest problem which I cannot solve. The area is 12' (length)x15'(width). However, it has french door (with curtains) on one side and open on the other side. I will have to solve this by some smart speaker placement and receiver equalization.

c) As per what I gathered from you post, your budget is around 25k for speakers. If there is a stretch possible definitely listen to Monitor Audio BR5 and Wharferdale Diamond 9.5 in this price catogory.

Floorstanders are a strict no (again WAF). I have not checked MA BR5. I listen mainly to Indian (predominantly classical instrumental) music. From British forums, I read Quad's are one of the better speakers for this genre. I also liked the Quad 11L a lot from the audition on the CDs that I listen often. (However, the Quad 99 amplification was used for audition and maybe my reference for goodness is not that refined). They are also rightly priced for my budget.

However, I dont see much owners of Quad speakers in this forum. Are they not liked or not conceived as value for money speaker?

d) How much do you plan to spend on the AVR?
There is always a best system for any given budget, right now Onkyo TXSR 605 seems to be the one with all the bells and whistles. Having said that, if music is your priority I would urge you to consider Arcam AVRs.

I have once been through the bells and whistles part of the story. These features thrill you for the first one year. The charm drops off. You got the receiver for music and movies, but the sound does not captivate you that much. No sir, I have decided not to go that route once again.

I would like to look into the Arcam suggestion though. What would be the least priced Arcam receiver. How much better will it be than the CA 540R?

Regards,
Prasad.
 
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